Raised in a Saharawi refugee camp in Algeria and living in exile for more than two decades Aziza Brahim’s album Abbar el Hamada is an album that’s about resilience and perseverance as much as it is a musical statement. And what a record it is. Abbar el Hamada is a beautiful African influenced Arab spiced record that embraces atmospheric musical passages and jazzy melodies with open arms. This record is a diverse effort that reflects the changing face of the world today.
Exploring the tumultuous and timely stories of the migrant and immigrant experience this record seems to have arrived at just the right time. Abbar el Hamada is a reflective and thoughtful effort that paints a picture through music and compassionate songwriting. While Aziza might be from Algeria and exiled in Spain, this record would seemingly fit any of the current migrant crises we see daily on the news and makes a statement about the humanity of it all without making a much of an effort.
Even without the lyrics much of Abbar el Hamada is beautiful and emotionally poignant. The reflective and often mellow interplay between musicians creates a serene mood and the songs are light, airy, and sound as if the old world was caught mixing with the new world. I really enjoyed the songs on Abbar el Hamada despite not understanding anything Aziza was singing. The record is the sort of thing you’d expect Rick Steeves to be listening to as he and his crew drove across the continent.
Emotional, stunning, and provocative Aziza Brahim’s Abbar el Hamada is an impactful effort on many levels. It’s impressively put together, played and thoroughly enjoyable. It’s hard to believe a musician with such talent is exiled and forced to live so far from home but perhaps it’s that distance that drives Brahim and makes his songs as amazing as they are. A worthy and passionate effort all the way around Abbar el Hamada is well worth a listen.